Sep 28, 2022In The Community

Majestic Marine Mammoths

Blue whales are the largest animal to have ever existed. Bigger than any dinosaur. Even the T-Rex. That’s a pretty … big claim to fame.

These gentle creatures can measure 30 metres long, with a heft of up to 199 tonnes. So, around the same weight as 150 Toyota Corollas, the Statue of Liberty or one Boeing Dreamlifter.

Despite their intimidating size, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists blue whales as endangered.

Victoria’s offshore Otway Basin provides a sanctuary for blue whales, along with humpback, fin, southern right and minke whales depending on the season. Powered by krill, the big blues forage the area, particularly through the late summer months.

The offshore Otway Basin marine environment is sensitive, and biologically important. It is a habitat to more than just rare whale species; dolphins, sharks, fur seals and turtles all mingle throughout the area. Commercial fisheries rely on the environment for squid, lobster and crab among others.

In 2021 Beach Energy earned regulatory approval to drill for natural gas in the offshore Otway Basin. In doing so, Beach committed to rigorous environmental protections to preserve and protect the local marine species.

When commencing activity in the Otway Basin, a project-specific blue whale adaptive management plan which included the deployment of dedicated marine mammal observers to the drilling rig support vessels.

Observers were responsible for informing the senior drilling supervisor of the presence of blue whales within an area that could potentially affect the behaviour of a whale. The senior drilling supervisor would then commence moving operations to a safe zone, ceasing operations after a whale was observed.

The Thylacine platform in the offshore Otway Basin (showing drilling rig and tug boats in the background).

During the drilling campaign observers logged 12,000 hours of observations from the vessels. These observations were supported by weekly aerial flights during peak blue whale foraging season from February to May.

The drilling campaign was successfully completed without effects on the behaviour of blue whales – highlighting that industries can co-exist with the marine environment in a safe and sustainable way

Moreover, the data provided throughout the 500 days’ worth of observation is being used to extend our understanding of the blue whale, helping ensure that these majestic marine mammoths are protected, and their habitats conserved into the future

Learn more about Beach Energy, the Otway Basin and the gas industry’s conservation efforts:

Scallops and a Seismic Shift

Otway Basin Victoria Information

Beach Energy 2022 Sustainability Report

Otway Offshore Project Seabed Assessment and Drilling Program 2019 – 2021

Marine Life Magnets